Tony Finau well off the lead ahead of final round at Tour Championship

Tony Finau hits from the second tee during the first round of the Tour Championship golf tournament Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Tony Finau hits from the second tee during the first round of the Tour Championship golf tournament Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. (Brynn Anderson, Associated Press)

ON TOUR — Tony Finau has some work to do if he wants any shot at contending for the FedEx Cup trophy.

The 31-year-old Rose Park native shot 3-over-par 73 in Saturday's third round of the Tour Championship, where he trails by 14 strokes at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

By virtue of a pair of top-15 performances that included his first win in five years at The Northern Trust, Finau opened the Tour Championship beginning at 7-under-par. But the Salt Lake City native fell back after shooting 2-over 72 in Thursday's opening round, pairing three birdies with three bogeys and a double on the par-4, 471-yard fourth hole.

But like he's done for the entire FedEx Cup Playoffs, Finau rallied. The West High alum posted 3-under 67 Friday to move back into the top five ahead of Saturday's moving day.

The long-driving first Tongan player on the PGA Tour played the final four holes of the second round at 3-under-par, taking advantage of a 343-yard drive on the par-5, 556-yard 18th hole with a nine-foot birdie putt to to within eight strokes of Cantlay.

"I knew I had to play a lot better than I did when I finished (the first round) to even have a chance," Finau said after Friday's second round. "But the great thing is, starting the position that I did, I still have, I still think I have an opportunity to win the FedEx Cup. And I knew I needed a good one today. So that finish I thought was huge, just because of that. No matter how Patrick finishes, at least I'm within single digits to make a run on the weekend. And this is a golf course that I know I have a low one in me. I'm going to need one and today was a good start to that."

Those low scores didn't come Saturday, though. They've come before during the Cup playoffs, but he'll need a massively impressive round to have any shot Sunday.

Finau shot 4-over on the front nine, including back-to-back bogeys on the par-4 seventh and eighth holes to drop out of the top 10. He pulled a pair of strokes back with birdies on Nos. 12 and 16, but gave one back on the par-4, 432-yard 17th hole to finish the third round at 3-over 73.

Finau will tee off the final round at 11:45 a.m. MT Sunday, tied for 13th place and well behind the 20-under-par 200 shot by Patrick Cantlay, who shot his third consecutive day of 67 or better.

Jon Rahm is two shots back of Cantlay for second place, followed Justin Thomas at 15-under, Kevin Na at 13-under and Abraham Ancer and Billy Horschell at 10-under.

Cantlay, who just passed Finau for the final spot on the Ryder Cup automatic qualifying list this week, connected on his sixth birdie of the day at No. 18 to pair with three bogeys, good for 3-under 67 for the second time around Friday's 66.

"I thought it was big for momentum," Cantlay said of his birdie putt on 18. "It was a nice putt to make, especially being out of position on that hole. And I'll take that momentum into tomorrow. I thought I rolled the ball on the greens just as good as the last couple days, and my speed was good, and a few putts went in today which was nice. So I feel like I'm in a good spot going into tomorrow, and that putt on 18 put the momentum in the right direction."

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